like koffe melk zoete drink in early morning Detroit
on Concord street by the old Packard Plant
which when built was a modern model miracle
of factory architecture so my dad when we passed by
on way to Mom’s folk’s place in East Detroit, off Mack Ave.
would always comment on how strange it was to see
it empty silent shell that once encompassed so much
carefully choreographed assembly line heavy labor
but I always liked to hear them talk about Nini
my grandmother and now listening to it daily again
I realize I always wanted to learn it and took German
in high school because it was as close to Dutch as they had
and I remember Karl who was Nini’s second husband
and with whom I was apparently fascinated because not once
but twice I followed him off on his walks and got lost
but my Dad and his twin older brothers and all
their wives hated him because when she died
he sold everything she had and moved down to Florida
from whence for years each Christmas he would send
along a huge crate of oranges so juicy so sweet
in those days such a treat lekker like Nini’s koffie melk.
James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. Van Looy leads the Labyrinth Creative Movement Workshop, which his Labyrinth titled poems are based on. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.